Alan Mulally speaks during a press conference in Hong Kong on Monday. (Vincent Yu / Associated Press)
Ford Motor Co. CEO Alan Mulally did little during a conference call Thursday morning to quell rumors that he may leave the Dearborn automaker for Microsoft Corp.
Mulally was asked on three occasions to discuss his future with Ford and the possibility of leaving for Microsoft.
His first response, to a question regarding the speculation, was that “nothing has changed from what we announced last November,” referring to the company statement that Mulally plans to remain as Ford’s CEO through at least the end of 2014.
When asked whether he has spoken with Microsoft, there was noticeable silence before Mulally answered the question by saying: “We don’t comment on the speculation.”
Mulally also brushed off a later question as to whether he would consider staying at Ford past 2014.
The 68-year-old CEO, who left Seattle-based Boeing Co. for Ford in 2006, has transformed the automaker’s historically divisive corporate culture into a model of teamwork. The company, which mortgaged everything to pay for a sweeping transformation of its automotive lineup, has shattered the barriers that had long divided its regional operations.
Now, many at Microsoft are reportedly hoping that Mulally can work that same magic at their company, which has slumped in the face of growing competition from the likes of Apple Inc. and Google Inc.
At Ford, Mark Fields, 52, was elevated last year to the previously vacated, second-in-command position of chief operating officer and is seen as the eventual successor to Mulally.
Executive chairman Bill Ford Jr., in a recent interview with Bloomberg TV, praised Ford’s executive bench and said he feels “really good about where we are in terms of succession.”